Anna’s Student Nursing Experience

On Wednesday 2nd September (8pm-9pm UK time) @EBNursingBMJ is co-hosting a twitter chat on student nursing and midwifery with @RCNStudents 

To celebrate the contributions our student nurses/midwives make – we are sharing blogs of their experiences in practice.  Today’s blog is from Anna Jones, a second year student nurse on the children’s branch, from the University of Leeds 

Anna Jones

My name is Anna Jones and I am a second year student nurse. I am studying at the University of Leeds and my branch is children’s nursing. I am currently on my summer annual leave and I have to say, I’m enjoying every minute! As much as I enjoy my course, it’s a relief to have a break! To say that second year has been difficult would be an understatement. Continual deadlines whilst working on placement all year has been exhausting, but a challenge I am proud to say that I have overcome. Being a student nurse brings many challenges every day. Whether it’s completing an assignment, frantically trying to get a certain skill signed off or ironing your uniform after a twelve and a half hour shift ready for another the next day. What I would give for my own fairy god mother!

However, these challenges do not compare to the ones many patients encounter daily and I am forever putting my own life into perspective to realise how truly lucky myself and many others are to have good health. Working within the field of paediatrics is incredibly rewarding and a joy to meet and care for so many courageous children and families. The strength and resilience they have to face each day is remarkable and gives me the motivation to deliver the best care I can, because my patient’s deserve nothing less.

Like I mentioned, this year has been a tough one – I thought first year was difficult but nothing can prepare you for the jump to second year. I first worked on a day case surgical ward which I loved. Whilst the no nights and weekends were a bonus, meeting so many children and families every shift was a delight. I was able to accompany patients throughout their short stay in hospital, from their admission and the journey to the anaesthetic room to bringing them back to the ward and saying goodbye as they were discharged. Although this was a short experience for patients and their families, do not underestimate the fear and anxieties that are experienced and how valuable the role of nurses are to lend a comforting smile and words of encouragement as children prepare for their surgery.

Being a children’s nurse means delivering the upmost care to that patient, but also ensuring family centred care is encapsulated within practice because they are also on this journey, experiencing a vast range of emotions. Comforting a parent who was crying as their child had been anaesthetised and taken to surgery, having only known them for a few hours seems a bit of an awkward situation. But when you are in that role, that caring role of a nurse, you pat them on the back, lend them a shoulder to cry on or even give them a hug, all with no hesitation. Because if you cannot show that level of compassion and empathy, how can you truly fulfil your role as a nurse?

The rest of my placements this year have been based in the community, one of which was health visiting. Students often have mixed reactions about health visiting but for me it was very different to life on the ward! 9am starts was one of the best perks, an extra two hours in bed was bliss! Working 9-5 Monday to Friday was also a very different routine, and one which I actually found more tiring than 3 long days on a ward. Community placements were slightly more relaxed compared to the busy pace of a ward, but do not doubt the workload. One baby is born every forty seconds in the UK, and each one needs a health visitor. But I enjoyed the placement and an area of health care I would certainly consider further along in my career. Another placement within the community was based at a SILC school. These are Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres for children with special needs. This was a special placement for several reasons; meeting children with specialist and complex needs was so valuable as a student nurse. To see the small yet significant impact you were making on these children was endearing and a valuable learning experience for future practice. The school was also where my grandma had nursed for 20 years; I had quite literally stepped into her shoes! As you can see, nursing runs in the family…

I found that working in the community was a valuable experience to ascertain the care that is delivered outside of the hospital setting. It was also important to become aware of all the services available for children and families to ensure that you are working as part of a wider team to ensure that the care you deliver is holistic within the context of that patient. I realise I sound like I’m writing an essay but it is so important to deliver effective, person centred care. To put my job into perspective, I always try to imagine if it was my younger sister or brother being cared for which gives me the drive to deliver the care that my patients deserve. If my parents or grandparents had to go into hospital, I would want the best level of care delivered to them, as would everyone. This is why the notion of ‘person centred care’ should resonate throughout the nursing workforce and an aspect I will channel within my career. At the beginning of my nursing programme I discovered a quote by Maya Angelou that encapsulates this well within the context of nursing:

‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

I have one more placement of my second year, 4 weeks on a respiratory ward which I begin in a few weeks time. It’s been nice to relax and have some time off but I am looking forward to being thrown back into the whirlwind that is nursing. I will then continue straight into third year. My final year. With so many assignments and placements, qualifying has always seemed like a lifetime away, but now it’s only 60 weeks away (to be precise!) Am I apprehensive? Yes. I can already feel the huge weight that is third year beginning to rest on my shoulders with the prospect of dissertation and applying for jobs. Am I ready? Sometimes I’m not so sure, but I’ve got this far so there is definitely no turning back now! Am I excited with what the next few years will bring? Absolutely.

Anna Jones @AnnaJones6

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